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by Casandra Barragan-Melendez

When you are surrounded Baylor Libraries by books in a library, what is it about a book that makes you want to grab it?

Maybe you were already looking for a specific category or one recommended by a friend, but what if that is not the case? Doesn't that narrow it down to basic looks- if it’s old or new, colorful or dull?

I’m pretty sure that a book with one-of-a-kind artworks from the 15th century would grab your attention.

Casandra with rare booksThe Très Riches Heures is an illuminated manuscript of the Book of Hours, a prayer book popular in the Middle Ages. The book was specifically made for Jean Duc de Berry, illustrated by the Limborg Brothers. Jean Duc de Berry spent his early life studying the construction of important buildings. He eventually encouraged other field artists to illuminate manuscripts as his passion changed. The Limbourg brothers are Pol, Jan, and Herman (Pol is known as the master of the group). They were well known for their international gothic art style of the 15th century.
The Très Riches Heures has psalms, lessons, hymns, responses, prayers, and antiphons. It also contains a calendar representing activities that surrounded the duke and his castle in the town of Mehun-sur-Yevre.

Casandra with book of hoursIt is one of the most well-preserved books of that century and it has examples of first attempts to modern landscape and sectioning the months of seasons.
Although the Limborg brothers did most of the illuminations, they died 1416 and never finished the book. Unfortunately that was the same year Jean Duc de Berry died, without enough money to pay for his funeral since it all went to his art collection. One of Duc de Berry's two daughters married Amadeus VII, Count of Savoy. Amedeus’s direct descendent, the Duc Charles I of Savoy inherited the Très Riches Heures. In late August 1485, Duc Charles I payed Jean Colombe 25 gold ecues to finish the illuminations.

If you would like to visit the Central Libraries Special Collections to view this treasure (Polk Oversize ND3363.B5 M8 2010) or find other inspirations, please visit the Special Collections website

These rare materials are available for anyone; and with over 10,000 items, we know we can find something that can illuminate your passion. We look forward to working with you!

Casandra work

Many thanks to Casandra for creating a beautiful hand-painted illumination for Baylor Libraries. Thank you also to Waco High School, Prosper Waco and many Baylor Libraries peoples who helped pull this important initiative together!
Beth Farwell
Andrea Turner
Vance Woods


by Beth Farwell

What could possibly be so interesting to these beautiful dogs?

Just a minute.

Why are there dogs in the special collections' room reading a book?

While a little unorthodox, one of these dogs has visited the library before. As a therapy dog, Sadie helped bring comfort to our students during finals week. This semester, Sadie and her sister were invited to present some wonderful rare books to you.

Sadie & LibbyThese precious dogs spent the afternoon looking at a couple of the Central Libraries Special Collections' bestiaries. According to the Oxford Dictionary, a bestiary is a "descriptive or anecdotal treatise on various real or mythical kinds of animals, especially a medieval work with a moralizing tone."

Animals have been used in stories to teach lessons throughout history. Peterborough bestiaryAesop's fables were told in ancient Greece, and Christian literature used animals to illustrate religious morals. Many of these bestiary tales continue to be used in modern literature. For example, the phoenix's burning itself to be born again found in Harry Potter is a tale derived from bestiaries.Peterborough bestiary

Baylor owns two beautiful bestiary facsimiles. The Oxford bestiary from the late 12th century, and the Peterborough bestiary from around 1300. Both are excellent examples with ornate, gilded illustrations. You are most welcome to visit for a closer look. Sadie and Libby may not be around, but you never know! For more information, please visit our webpage.

Libby & Sadie

Sadie and Libby are both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Sadie is 10 years old and Libby is 6.Sadie & LibbyThey are pets of Diana and Jon Engelhardt. Both girls were adopted as adult dogs. Sadie the tri-color (black and white) and Diana work together as a team with Angel Paws doing animal assisted therapy visits. Angel Paws is an affiliate of Pet Partners, Inc. Libby is planning on becoming an “Angel Paw” in the near future. The breed is known for being great companion dogs as they enjoy being with people, making new friends and bringing cheer to others.
Sadie is one of the dogs featured on the Angel Paws website click on the About Us tab at the top right of the home page for more information about Sadie.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog and are inspired to research more into the rich world of bestiaries.

Many, many thanks to Sadie, Libby, Diana and Jon Engelhardt for their time and patience! We had a wonderful afternoon with you in the library.

Our amazing photographer, Ben Johansen, was able to make magic once again for us! Thank you!
Thanks also to our two photo/puppy wranglers, Sarah Schmuck and Andrea Turner!

by Brady Odom

Valentine’s Day is the one day a year completely dedicated to the expression of romantic love. A candlelit dinner, flowers and chocolate, sometimes it is as simple as cuddling on the couch to watch a movie (probably based on a Nicolas Sparks book).

Not all couples get to celebrate the day of love with one of these special dates. Long distance relationships add a whole new level of complexity to Valentine’s Day romance. Those who have to keep the romance alive from afar are dependent on pictures, videos, and especially words to express their affections to the ones they love.

In 1858, words were especially important for long distance romance. One of the most prominent figures in Texas History (who happened to be fairly prominent in Baylor’s history as well) exemplified this idea. Tucked away in the Central Libraries Special Collections is a beautiful fine press volume titled A Valentine in a Rough Winter: A Newly Discovered Letter from Sam Houston to his wife, February 14, 1858. Created by John Holmes Jenkins III, this book highlights a facsimile of a letter from Sam Houston to his wife, Margaret Lea Houston, written on Valentine’s Day 1858.

In the book, Jenkins provides the backstory of Houston’s political struggles leading up to the letter to Margaret Lea. She was pregnant with their seventh child and Houston longed to be home with her and their family in the midst of growing frustration with the political situation he found himself in at Washington. Houston shares his frustrations with Margaret Lea in the letter; as well as some general advice about how to treat a coughing fit. What stands out most about the letter, though, is Houston’s expression of love.

What captures the essence of Valentine’s Day at Baylor University better than a long distance letter from Sam Houston to his wife which reads in part:

    “I look with boundless desire to be with you. My desire arises from a disposition to enjoy your society, when the evening will steal upon us and a portion of the world’s cares will be shut out...”

The Central Libraries Special Collections staff wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day. If you’d like to read more about this letter (Hughes Oversize F390 H83325x), please visit our website:

If you are interested in a digital kind of love, check out out Megan Martinsen's blog here.

Many thanks to Brady Odom for this post. Brady is our Special Collections Assistant and Baylor graduate (BA'15)! Sic 'em!


by Beth Farwell

With the beginning of a new year, I am reminded of our newest young researchers who visit our special collections. English classes from Waco's Live Oak Classical School, local homeschool groups, and an inquisitive group from Coram Deo Academy in North Texas have all explored these rich resources.
Coram Deo Academy 3
The goal with each class is to engage these potential researchers with primary resources. These original documents and raw materials of history provide a rich background for exploring critical thinking skills and constructing knowledge.
Coram Deo Academy 4

Classes are able to look at original resources dating from pre-1300s to current day with newly crafted artist's books.

Coram Deo Academy 2

Introducing them to the volumes is only part of the engagement.

Coram Deo Academy 1

Through various activities, students learn how special collections and archives are accessed, adding definitions of 'facsimile' and other rare book glossary terms to their vocabulary.

Coram Deo Academy 5

Baylor Libraries looks forward to the future through our newest researchers!

To see these treasures in person and for more information, please visit our webpage:

Many thanks and best wishes to these future researchers! Thank you to our wonderful photographers, Ben Johansen and Carl Flynn!


by Beth Farwell

The year is 1773.

The curtain rises for a new Christmas play by David Garrick in the famous Drury Lane Theatre in London, England.

The author, David Garrick (1717-1779), was a well-known Shakesperean actor, producer, dramatist, poet, and manager of the theater on Drury Lane. During his long career in the theater, Mr. Garrick introduced a more natural acting style and reformed the theater experience.

242 years later, this same play "A Christmas Tale" comes to life again with the help of Sam Henderson; a modern day actor, writer, director and adjunct professor in Baylor University's Department of Theatre Arts. He is reading from the original play housed in the Central Libraries Special Collections.

Sit back and imagine yourself in this 1773 audience.

Drury Lane Theater

Listen to the prologue with Father Christmas inviting you, the audience, to experience the story.

This particular play in its entirety is available to you through the Baylor Digital Collections. Click here You are also invited to visit the library to see these wonderful pieces of history in person. More information can be found on our webpage:

If you'd like to know more about our wonderful reader, Sam Henderson, you can read more on the department's webpage Sam Henderson.

We hope you've enjoyed this visit into our wonderful treasures. May your holiday season be blessed and full of peace.

We are so grateful for Sam Henderson's help and talents and Stephen Bolech's expertise as our audio engineer. Many thanks!